April 15, 2016
Three crewmen from the commercial fishing vessel Privateer have been rescued by the Coast Guard. The seventy-five foot fishing vessel began taking on water in eight foot swells Friday afternoon approximately a mile from Grays Harbor. The vessel’s crew radioed for help, stating that they were taking on water through an 8-10 inch hole and were preparing to abandon ship. A motor life boat from the Coast Guard Station in Grays Harbor was dispatched and attempted to aid the vessel with dewatering pumps; however, the pumps could not keep up with the flooding and the crew was forced to abandon the sinking vessel. There were no reported injuries in the accident, although one crewman was evaluated for possible heart problems.
The Coast Guard indicated that the crew of the Privateer appeared to be well trained and prepared for an emergency such as this. However, commercial fishing vessel sinkings continue to happen with far too much regularity along the Washington and Oregon Coast. Maritime safety regulations now require all commercial fishing vessels to carry mandatory life saving equipment such as EPIRBS and survival suits. Fishing vessels are also required to conduct regular safety drills in abandon ship procedures. However, for most fishing vessels there are few safety requirements relating to regular inspection and maintenance of the vessels’ hull and machinery. The cause of this accident is currently unknown and under investigation by the Coast Guard.
The Privateer was last noted to be floating partially submerged north of the North Jetty; the Coast Guard has warned all mariners to stay clear of the area. The Privateer’s holds were empty at the time of the casualty.